Centuries ago, the Andes were ruled by the great Inca civilization that believed the Sun to be God. They called this god Inti, and they built their cities and temples in the peaks of the highest mountains so they could be nearer to him. With an awareness that the sun was the source of all life, the Incas lived theirs worshiping its light.
In a way, the Incas were not wrong in their belief; this planet is ruled by the sun. Though it may not be a spiritual being or higher power, our ordinary yellow star—of which there are billions throughout the universe—sustains our galaxy. Its gravity keeps all planets in orbit, making our night end and our day begin.
By some inexplicable miracle, the sun and our planet are in precisely the right distance so that we have sufficient warmth to live, grow food and carry out metabolic functions that have evolved in the sun’s presence. Take, for example, vital Vitamin D absorption through human skin, or photosynthesis for plants. The planet is also at precisely the right distance where we won’t burn in its fire or die from its radiation—though the destruction of our atmosphere may soon change that.
We are in the land of the sun, and the civilization that knew it lived here, scattered in the valleys and summits of the Andes. Today, all that remains of this ancient empire—aside from some impressive ruins—are cities irrevocably shaped by colonial Catholicism, simultaneously modern and traditional, epitomized in the capital city with the second highest elevation in the world: Quito.